Even though the musical parameters of his career with Finger Eleven are fairly well defined at this point in their career, guitarist James Black prefers to take the road less travelled when it comes to his solo work. On Moon Boot Cocoon, his first solo release, Black opts to strip things back to relative basics while showing a myriad of influences. Whether performing the funk-influenced “Man From Mars” or the haunting track “The Gravity,” Black conveys his willingness to be adventurous with his music.
James Black spoke with Here Magazine earlier this month about the making of Moon Boot Cocoon and his fascination with the universe:
You’ve had a very successful career with Finger Eleven and have taken to producing other artists like The Head of the Herd. Was a solo record something you had wanted to pursue for quite some time?
For the last 10 years, I have been trying to expand my musical horizons. There has always been something in me that needed to come out. I needed to go make my own record but it took awhile to find the right ingredients to put into the album. It turned out exactly as I had hoped that it would though. I never had a record come out where I could care less about what anyone else thinks about it. It feels very freeing.
Were you concerned about the whole preconceived notion of the singer-songwriter and being a guy with a guitar?
What I didn’t want to do with this record was to be a guy with an acoustic guitar playing singer-songwriter songs. That just doesn’t seem original to me anymore. I wanted to let my imagination run rampant and come up with something far more elaborate and far more colourful. I wanted to find a way to mix modern and classic sounds together.
Outer space is a recurring theme throughout your new record. Where did this fascination stem from?
A big reason of course is that I am a Star Wars generation kid. But for as long as I can remember, the whole concept of space and the universe has been absolutely fascinating to me. I read [Stephen Hawking’s] A Brief History Of Time and love the head scratching aspect of it all. I find a lot of humour in the fact that there are 8 billion people walking around the planet thinking they are the most important thing in the universe when we are actually more like dust in the bigger scheme of things.